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SAN JOSE � In what may be the only eyewitness account of the fatal chase, a surprise, last-minute prosecution witness took the stand Monday to refute claims made by a state drug agent facing manslaughter charges for shooting an unarmed man in the back. Sherrie Green told jurors that she had been admiring the way Rodolfo “Rudy” Cardenas was running moments before he was gunned down Feb. 17, 2004. “He was a pretty runner. He ran like Flo Jo,” Green said, referring to Olympic runner Florence Griffith Joyner before addressing Cardenas’ wife. “No offense, Mrs. Cardenas. I wasn’t flirting. I was just looking.” Mike Walker, a 34-year-old agent with the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, maintains he shot Cardenas, mistaken for a dangerous parolee, out of self-defense. If convicted, he could face more than a decade behind bars. Green had been on her way to church when she made a wrong turn and ended up witnessing the end of the fatal foot chase. Pulling over to the side of the road, Green said she started to make a phone call when she noticed Cardenas and stopped to stare. A few seconds later she heard a “pop.” She told Deputy District Attorney Lane Liroff that it sounded like a firecracker, and Green said she thought Cardenas had stepped in a pothole. But then she heard the noise again. “That’s when I realized those weren’t pops,” Green said. “I didn’t wait around to see if he had hit the ground. I drove off into traffic.” Walker, who had been with the BNE for less than a year, said he fired his weapon only after observing Cardenas pull what he thought was a gun from around his waist. But Green testified Monday that Cardenas never had his hands near his waist. She said his hands were free and he was running at an angle. Green added that Cardenas, who had been high on methamphetamines when he was killed, never looked behind him, as Walker claims he did. Cardenas “had this stride � as if he had someplace to go,” Green said. Green never told police what she witnessed, though she did give a television interview to an NBC reporter the day after the shooting. The interview � which Green recorded with her TiVo and handed over to prosecutors last month � was shown in court Monday. In the clip, Green demonstrates how Cardenas threw back his arms and twisted his body after he was shot by Walker. After reading media reports about the incident that she “felt weren’t true,” Green started leaving anonymous “encouraging messages” on Liroff’s answering machine a few weeks ago. It was Liroff’s paralegal who finally convinced Green to come forwarded with her story. “Did we ask you to come to court?” Liroff asked Green Monday. “Yes,” she answered. “Did you want to?” Liroff asked. Green shook her head, and the prosecutor asked why she hesitated. “Can I be honest, Mr. Rene?” Green asked, turning to face Superior Court Judge Rene Navarro, who nodded. “I don’t trust police officers,” said Green, whose daughter was earlier convicted on murder charges in Santa Clara County. At the end of his direct exam, Liroff asked Green if she had been promised anything in exchange for her testimony. Green said, “No,” then added with a chuckle, “You said I’d get free water.” On cross-examination, Walker’s attorney, Craig Brown, noted that Green wears glasses and asked if it was possible she couldn’t see whether or not Cardenas had something in his hands. Brown also took exception to Green’s account of the incident, telling her that what she told the NBC reporter and what she testified on the stand didn’t match. “This happened a year and a half ago,” Green said, her voice rising slightly. “I can’t remember in detail. � It was not a pleasant memory.” Green curtly reminded Brown that the only reason he had seen a copy of her news interview was because she had provided him with a copy of it. “I didn’t have to do that,” she said. Green’s testimony may be a coup for the prosecution and comes just one day before closing arguments are slated to begin. The case is People v. Walker, 210885.

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